ADN:018 — Mastering The Art Of Songwriting

Artist Development
5 min readMar 26, 2023

Hey Friends -

Welcome to the Artist Development Newsletter.

Every Sunday, I send an email providing actionable tips for artists and industry on one area of the music business.

Last week we discussed a simple strategy for getting more streams on Spotify.

You can re-read last week’s newsletter here if you want to refresh.

Today we will discuss mastering the art of songwriting by increasing your luck surface.

Let’s jump in.

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Songwriting ability is a gift.

After a while, you come to realize,

“I’ve really been blessed. I can write these things and it makes me happy,

and it makes millions of people happy.”

It’s an obligation; it’s bigger than you.

It’s the only true magic I know.

It’s not pulling a rabbit out of a hat; it’s real.

It’s your soul floating out to theirs.

- Tom Petty

Sometimes song ideas seem to fall from the sky.

You are at the right place and time and have found an idea.

You can increase your luck surface for capturing songs by practicing and being prepared for the moment ideas appear.

Here are some tips for when those lightning-in-a-bottle thoughts strike.

Start with the concept:

Before writing your song, make sure you clearly understand what you want to say.

A strong concept will help guide the direction of your lyrics and give your song a sense of purpose.

Here are five ways to identify a strong concept for a song:

  • Emotionally resonant: Look for concepts that evoke strong emotions or feelings. A song that connects with listeners emotionally is more likely to be memorable and impactful.
  • Unique perspective: Consider concepts that offer a unique perspective on a universal theme. A fresh take on a familiar subject can make your song stand out and capture listeners’ attention.
  • Visual imagery: Powerful visual imagery can help bring a concept to life and make it more engaging for listeners. Look for ideas that paint vivid pictures in the mind’s eye.
  • Universal appeal: A strong concept should have universal appeal and be relatable to a broad audience. It will increase the chances of your song resonating with listeners and becoming a hit.
  • Memorable hook: A unique hook can make a concept stick in listeners’ minds and keep them returning for more. Look for concepts that lend themselves to catchy, memorable hooks that can serve as the centerpiece of your song.

Craft a memorable melody:

A great melody can make or break a song.

Focus on creating a memorable melody that’s catchy and easy to sing along with.

  • Start with a strong hook: A strong hook is a catchy, memorable phrase that serves as the centerpiece of your melody — the part of the melody that listeners will remember and sing along to.
  • Use repetition: Repetition is a powerful tool in crafting a memorable melody. Repeating a melodic phrase or motif throughout your song can help it stick in listeners’ minds.
  • Create contrast: Contrast is another critical element of crafting a memorable melody. Varying your melody’s rhythm, pitch, or dynamics can create contrast and make it more exciting and unique.
  • Use contour: The contour of a melody refers to its shape or direction. A melody that rises and falls compellingly is more likely to be memorable than one that stays at the same pitch level.
  • Connect melody to lyrics: A melody that reflects the emotion or message of the lyrics is more likely to be memorable and impactful. Look for ways to connect your melody to the meaning and mood of your lyrics.

Using these techniques, you can craft a memorable melody that captures the listeners’ attention and stays with them long after the song ends.

Use descriptive language:

Using descriptive language in your lyrics can help paint a vivid picture in your listener’s mind.

Use metaphors, similes, and other literary devices to create a solid emotional connection with your audience.

  • Sensory details: Use sensory details such as sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell to create a vivid picture in the listener’s mind. They help to make your lyrics more engaging and memorable.
  • Metaphors and similes: Metaphors and similes are available to create comparisons and draw parallels between two seemingly unrelated things. They add depth and complexity to your lyrics.
  • Specificity: Being specific in your descriptions can help to make your lyrics more tangible and believable. Instead of general terms, use specific details that help paint a clear picture.
  • Personification: Giving inanimate objects or abstract concepts human qualities can help to create a sense of personality and bring your lyrics to life.
  • Imagery: Using vivid, descriptive imagery can help to create a solid emotional connection with the listener. It can also make your lyrics more memorable and impactful.

By incorporating these techniques into your lyrics, you can use descriptive language to create a more immersive and engaging listening experience for your audience.

Edit ruthlessly:

Once you’ve written your first draft, take a step back and objectively evaluate your work.

Edit ruthlessly, cutting out anything that doesn’t serve the song’s overall message or feel.

  • Cut unnecessary words: Look for redundant words or phrases that add no value to the writing. Cut them out to make your writing more concise and focused.
  • Remove repetition: Repetition can be effective sometimes, but too much of it can make your writing feel redundant and boring. Look for repeated ideas or phrases and remove them.
  • Simplify complex sentences: Long, convoluted sentences can be challenging to follow and detract from the clarity of your writing. Break them up into shorter, more manageable sentences.
  • Check for consistency: Look for inconsistencies in your writing, such as using different terms to describe the same thing or changing tenses mid-sentence. Make sure all elements of your writing are consistent and cohesive.
  • Read it aloud: Reading your writing aloud can help you identify awkward phrasing, clunky sentences, and other issues that may only be apparent when reading silently. Help you make more effective edits and improve the overall flow of your writing.

To recap:

  • Concept
  • Melody
  • Descriptive language
  • Edit ruthlessly

Using these strategies, you can increase your luck surface when inspiration strikes.

See you next Sunday!

Neil Mason

Artist Development

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